New York - Two sisters, aged 94 and 97, who have been together nearly all their lives - from a childhood in Germany to the horrors of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp to a comfortable life in America - are finally fulfilling their Zionist dream: They're moving to the Promised Land.
On Tuesday afternoon, the two sisters, who are among the oldest olim to Israel-headed to the airport in New York to board a plane for their new home in Israel.
As the packed up to leave their longtime home in Englewood, New Jersey, tears flowed easily and quickly as they bade goodbye to family members.
"We're one family, and she wishes we could all be together-not part of the family in America and part of the family in Israel," said a tearful niece, Judy Marcus, who accompanied her two aunts at the beginning of their long trip.
The two sisters - Irma Haas, 97, and Hilde Meyer, 94 - have been living together or near each other nearly all their lives.
They both grew up in Germany, fled to Holland as the Nazis began their program to exterminate the Jews, and were shipped off to Bergen-Belsen when Hitler conquered Holland. Each lost her husband at the concentration camp shortly before liberation in 1945, and the sisters immigrated together to the United States not long after the conclusion of the war.
Like many German Jews, they settled in Manhattan's Washington Heights neighborhood, remarried and eventually moved to the suburbs. Now widows, the sisters have had increasing difficulty living independently, and they decided it was time to retire to Israel.
"They've always had Israel as a focal point in their lives," Marcus said of her aunts. Marcus said the sisters chose Israel "because all their lives they've always been supporters of Israel, and Shaare Zedek particularly."
Haas and Meyer will be moving to Beit Barth, an assisted-living facility in Jerusalem, Marcus said.
They are among nearly 3,000 people who made aliya this year from North America - a 20-year high, according to Absorption Ministry officials. The sisters came to Israel as part of the Nefesh B'Nefesh program, which provides financial and other assistance to North Americans immigrating to the Jewish state.
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